Adjusting to living post-cancer can be a challenge in and of itself. I have found I need to find a new 'normal'. I am finding this stage of recovery a bit like walking a tight rope, a balancing act where I am constantly balancing my 'old' normal with the 'new' normal. Where I can forget all about cancer one minute and then next I will be navigating thoughts of fear and doubt.
Now that I have been in remission for over a year, cancer is no longer all-consuming and I am freely able to think about other things. This is fueled by the ability to do the things I used to do too - go for walks, play guitar, go back to work, do the shopping, look after the kids, etc.
In fact days and even weeks can go by where I do not think about cancer at all. This in itself brings interesting challenges because I have had cancer (and it could come back!) so I need to be aware of this. Life is no longer how it used to be. I am having to adjust to living in a new 'normal'.
There are times when thoughts about cancer do creep up on me. This can be quite sudden and unexpected. Watching an advert on TV about a cancer charity run or an appeal for fundraising often makes my thoughts return to it, although not in an unpleasant way.
The moments I am having to be careful of are when discussion turns to a subject that involves living longer. For example, talk about reaching a significant birthday (even if it's someone else talking about themselves), discussions about 'when you are a grandparent...' or 'when your girls become teenagers...' These are perfectly normal things to talk about and I am not asking people to avoid these topics when I am around! It's just that I find myself immediately thinking negatively about my life in times like these.
Reading my blog you may think that I am an extremely positive person. I must confess that naturally, I am not. I gravitate towards being quite negative and pessimistic if left to my own devices - just ask my wife. I have found that it is my faith in Jesus that helps me to be more positive and this is what gives me hope.
So it is at those times, when long life is being discussed, I often find myself saying in my head 'Wouldn't it be great if I reached 40? Getting to 60 would be a bonus!' or 'I really hope I make it to see my daughters reach their teenage years'. I need to catch myself. I need to choose to think positively again.
Squashing the feelings of fear and doubt somewhere deep inside is not the answer. That only increases the pressure and the pain. I need to remind myself again, and again of what Jesus taught me whilst I was in the middle of the storm: Jesus is in control, not me. All I need to do is trust in Him and rest. That is all. Hold firmly on to Jesus and ride the next wave, wherever it may take me.